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March Exports/Imports: “Ethanol Shuffle” with Brazil Alive and Well

May 2, 2013


The U.S. remained a net exporter in March by a very slim margin, as imports from Brazil jumped to their highest level of the year and the "ethanol shuffle" proved to be alive and well. March U.S. exports of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) totaled 58.8 million gallons (mg), up 38% from February, according to government data released today. Canada was again the leading destination for U.S. product, receiving 24.9 mg (42% of total shipments). Brazil (9.3 mg) was a distant second, while the United Arab Emirates (6.9 mg) ranked as the month's third-largest customer. Year-to-date ethanol exports stand at 164.9 mg, implying an annualized total of 660 mg. Exports of denatured ethanol for fuel use tallied 33.3 mg, up 19% from February. All 24.9 mg of product shipped to Canada in March was denatured for fuel use; Peru (3.3 mg), Jamaica (2.1 mg), Ecuador (2.1 mg), and Brazil (0.7 mg) were other leading importers of denatured ethanol for fuel use. Meanwhile, shipments of undenatured ethanol for fuel use jumped to 24.7 mg—nearly double February's total and the highest since July 2012. Brazil was the top destination for undenatured fuel ethanol, receiving 8.6 mg. UAE followed with 6.9 mg, while the Philippines (5.2 mg), Mexico (2.8) and the Netherlands (1.2 mg) rounded out the top five. Exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel use totaled 791,705 gallons. March fuel ethanol imports surged to 52.7 mg, more than double February's total. Brazil sent 33.5 mg directly to the U.S. in March—that's six times larger than February shipments from the country. The remainder of March imports came from the CBI nations of Jamaica (8.4 mg), El Salvador (5.6 mg), and Costa Rica (5.2 mg). Year-to-date imports stood at 119.1 mg, implying an annual total of 476 mg. That's far below the 650-750 mg of imports that would likely be needed to meet the proposed 2013 RFS advanced biofuel standard. Distillers grains exports fell 4% from February to 591,688 metric tons (mt). China was again the top customer for U.S. DDG exports, bringing in 179,557 mt. Mexico (88,543 mt), Japan (52,542 mt), Canada (33,717 mt), and Thailand (31,916 mt) were other top destinations. Year-to-date DDG exports totaled 1.795 million mt, implying an annualized total of 7.2 million mt.